“You seek a false comfort when you demand that I define myself for you with words. Words do not contain or define any person. A heart can, if it is willing. But I fear yours is not. You know more of the whole of me than any other person who breathes, yet you persist in insisting that all of that cannot be me. What would you have me cut off and leave behind? And why must I truncate myself in order to please you?”—Robin Hobb - The Tawny Man trilogy (via quote-book)
Arriving in Chicago around 10 a.m. was a welcome relief for many reasons. The dude who took my original seat somehow started a 4 hour long conversation with me on the ride to Chicago. He told me all about his heavy metal band he was in and how much he missed the spotlight. Showed me a video, mind you, on his laptop of one of the performaces he did. He said he did “shock music” performances. It was all about self mutilation, nudity, screaming and cursing and somewhere inbetween was music. So he shows me this video. He is naked singing on stage. His package…well let me just say..he must be confident in his manhood. He is on stage and naked screaming and his tats are covering him considerably. I watch what seems like a lifetime and then he looks at me and says thanks for watching. I inquire about his “mark of the beast” tattoo and then it goes from there. I knew God put me in that seat for a reason and now I was seeing why. He began his life story and didn’t stop until the present. He was going to Chicago to see his daughter,who lived with a woman whose family is known for drug dealing and prostitution. He admits that he was captivated by her beauty and body and didn’t realize until a child was coming in the world, that it would be surrounded by all this. He lives in West Virginia with his father who provides his every need and I am not here to judge, but can you say co-dependant. The dude tells me about his drug usage in the past and how he is trying to be a better person for his 3 year old daughter. I give him kuddos for that and he continues. Somewhere the conversation gets to life choices, the meaning of life, life, life, life blah blah blah.
My door opens and I jump through. Metaphorically of course. I ask him if he ever considers praying about his whole screwed up situation? He tells me then that he prays but to Satan. He never leaves home without his book, gets up and pulls it from his backpack. It basically is the Book of Satan. He said it has gotten him through tough times and if he ever forgets it he feels weird. I then insert the idea, and I say” I could be wrong, but just a thought! Do you think that maybe your life is “fucked up” because you always have that evil book connected to your soul? That just maybe, if you left it behind on one ofyour journeys, you might feel a tad bit freer? He confesses that he use to go to church as a kid and his grandpa was a preacher. He tells me he has forgotten all that. He looks at me like that is such a new and novel idea, he never thought of it. Oh no..never! he tells me. He’s too connected. I then say, “Just a thought, again, but it seems to me that you really don’t like who you are, where you have been, what you have done, and you want to change? Do you think maybe, just maybe, that Satan isn’t on those plans with you? That maybe God put me on this train, in this car, in the seat next to you to maybe have a discussion about that very thing?”
He scratches his head and asks me, “Are you an angel or something cause you knows things that make sense?” I laugh, and say yeah, something like that. So I continue to let God speak to me in a way that the “dude” understands. In the end, he is confusing compassion and understanding with something else and basically asks me if I want to have a quickee in Chicago because he is attracted to older fuller figured women like me. I look at him and just laugh! The train pulls in and I disembark and he goes his way and I go mine. Wow…all I can say. The journey continues.
Boarding the train I am standing on the platform in Cincy Ohio next to a hispanic woman who speaks no English and I am sensitive enough to not want to insult her with my limited knowledge of the Spanish language. Her cart is overwhelmed and the look in her eye tells me she has never taken a train ride. I help her carry her luggage on the train and she gets settled. We nod to each other, a silent language, and walk to separate areas of the cars. They segregate your seating based on your destination, because at some point, some of the cars piggyback on to other trains.
I go to my seat and this dude, in the fullest extent of the description, dude looks at me and says’ “Excuse me but that is my seat.” I just silently look at him and smile and wait for an explanation, because clearly it is not. The woman who would have set next to me looks at me and he says “do you mind, I want to ride next to her”. I nod, move my stuff and see that his seat is empty, two seats are empty actually, and I am thinking I get the better deal. His hair is long and in a pony tail, greasy, his black t shirt has some name of a heavy metal band, tats on his arms, and his pants hang on him enough that when he stretches out I can see his but crack. Gross! He is cuddling and snuggling with the woman who I would have sat next to and she is cut from about the same cloth. Dirty blonde hair, unkept, baggy sweats and oversized hoodie and a blanket wrapped around her with a pillow for sleeping. They appear to be cozy..with each other…so I just make myself comfortable for the ride to Chicago town. The porter comes by and asks for our ticket and all I can think of is Tom Hanks in the Polar Express. It is cold enough I am kinda wishing the offer for a hot chocolate would bring in the dancing men pouring hot chocolate and tapping their way down the aisle. Instead, just the slow moving swaying of the train as it heads out of Cincinnati. I look out into the darkness and realize I am really leaving. That all the months of planning and dreaming…are coming to a head. I feel an enormous surge of peace and contentment at the same time I feel as if bits of my heart are breaking into pieces like a cookie gone stale after christmas. I don’t even realize it until I feel the tear fall onto my arm near the cold windown I am leaning against. It is a cold tear. I know my tears…I have cried enough of them that they get organized in my head and heart just like anything else. Cold tears mean deep sorrow. Deep deep deep sorrow from the deepest part of my heart and soul. Those don’t come out very often, but when they do…it’s means loss. Separation permanent separation. That is my train ride to Chicago. I am losing to gain. I am leaving and closing the door to a chapter of my life and facing west to another one. I try to sleep, I doze a bit, not much. I see the stadium in Indianapolis lit up with the SuperBowl insignia and it reminds me…life goes on.
It started with fresh air and a neighborhood called Browne’s Addition in Spokane WA. It grew to an obsession and turned into whimsy and passion. The plans began and in August of 2011 I sold almost a lifetime of things. The car was gone too. I became a squatter at my daughter’s apt until the journey began. Great times during those five months and our bond grew. Watching my youngest vacate the nest was painful knowing it was her way of dealing with my evenutal leaving and her eventual reality of having to stand alone someplace in this world.
The night was cool but sweet on that Feb.3 when Cody and Allysa drove me to Union Station in the heart of Cincinnati at midnight. We enjoyed Rally’s fast food and as we pulled up it was time to say goodbye to what had become dear friends. My daughter Sabrina was out of town so the reality didn’t seem quite so real.
The train station was quite and about a short dozen of people awaited the train to Chicago. What a variety. The young hip couple that didn’t look at each other when they talked so much that you may have been thinking they were talking to themselves more than each other.
The loud, attention seeker who hung out near the ticket window to make sure everyone knew he was there. The black guy who sat in the back of the waiting room near me who had his headphones on but was aware. The acoustics in that high ceiling and the old phones boothes made me wish they would tell me the stories of the days so long ago. How many goodbyes had it witnessed, how many tears had fallen on the inlaid marble floor? Well, all aboard, the porter cried and it was time to load up.
that place between then and later…where time moves so slowly and one must be still…silent..so that only your own heartbeat can be heard …you breathe slowly and utter a prayer of hope for a different tomorrow.
“If you choose hope, then you will find it!
If you choose light, then darkness will fade.
If you choose truth, then you will be seen as trustworthy!
Choose wisely your friends and your lovers.
Choose to take ownership of your life and growing will be less painful.
Choose forgiveness over hatred and bitterness. The healing is quicker.
Choose to live your life…not live a life where you already dead.
For when you reach the end you are able to smile!”—